FIIA Analysis

FIIA Analysis 2 (2014)   

Managing Conflict after Civil War:
The Power-Sharing and Power-Dividing Approaches

Published 12.8.2014

Matthew Hoddie
Finnish Institute of International Affairs

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This paper considers two institutional alternatives for managing conflict following the negotiated settlement of civil war. The most common set of institutional structures that former civil war combatants adopt are associated with power sharing. These power-sharing institutions may be constructed across the political, military, territorial, and economic dimensions of state power. Recent research suggests that post-civil war states that specify greater numbers of power-sharing institutions within their peace agreements tend to have a lower risk of the re-initiation of conflict. At the same time, critics of power sharing emphasize that these mechanisms lack a capacity to foster common identities among rivals and have characteristics that are inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

An alternative to power sharing for states that are emerging from civil war is the adoption of power-dividing institutions. The core features of the power-dividing approach are limiting the scope of government authority and establishing a wide-ranging system of checks and balances intended to manage the competing interests within a country. In many respects, these institutional structures parallel those established by the constitution of the United States. Those who are sceptical about the power-dividing approach, however, point out that these institutions have not yet been adopted in any state emerging from civil war. It thus remains unclear how effective these structures would be at managing conflict within this particularly challenging environment.


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